Snake Country – Pat McKrill

Getting to know the neighbours
Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes

Mambas wrestling!

Mambas wrestling!

Does anybody out there understand just how good I feel every time I write an article on snakes? Had I drawn a shorter straw, I might have ended up having to write about the most cunning, evil, destructive, devious and deadly creature on earth; humankind – an oxymoron if ever there was one. Luck of the draw I guess.

Sorry, I can’t be specific about what brought that on, suffice to say I’m contemplating cutting out my morning newspaper and radio fix. In the meantime, back to my mental sanctuary, my limbless friends. They’re starting to gird up their loins now that we’re getting the occasional warm snap, and I’m confident that we’re not too far off a full-blown seasonal bonanza and there will soon be movement in the undergrowth – count on it. An interesting thing happened to a Midlands reader just recently, who sent me pictures of a Rhombic Skaapsteker that had stowed away in a piece of wood that she had collected from the bush for decorative purposes. The log had obviously been its current winter refuge and with all the movement, the snake had made its way out into the interior of the vehicle where it was spotted and taken to be removed by an interested snake catcher along the way, who committed to take it back to the area from whence it came. Although venomous – the potency of the venom is inconsequential from the human point of view – there were no reports of the snake trying to kill the driver and set alight to the vehicle, or to blame Adam and Eve for its plight. It just wanted to get back to the bush. There are numerous cases of accidental ‘imports’ that to the uninitiated, will have led to reports of such and such a species occurring in areas where they have not previously been recorded. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s always helpful to get information on such unusual findings, just to keep distribution records accurate. There’s nothing to suggest that an indigenous import such as this will not habituate if it finds the environment to be suitable, but because snakes – like many other creatures on this earth – are species specific in their reproductive proclivities, they would need to locate a like-species of the opposite sex in order to achieve distribution continuity. Green Mambas in Pretoria? Ja boet.
There will be a fair amount of activity shortly, as the various resident snakes start looking for mates and food – it might be the other way around though, one needs food to generate the energy to start finding a suitable catch. I’ve seen mating aggregations before and they’re fascinating because male snakes don’t actually fight in the accepted sense, they just wind around each other a try to push one another over. Rather naff really if you’re the local lass looking for the Rambo type.

© pat mckrill. 2015
herpet@eastcoast.co.za
Cell: 0833036958